by Coty Perry
Primitive fishing isn’t a difficult game, but a lot of people overcomplicate it. You need to have the right bait and drop it in the right spot at the right time. That’s it. When it comes to fishing for your survival, the stakes are a bit higher. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or frustrated when you’re not catching anything.
When the SHTF there may be no stores open to buy food, or if you choose to bug-out, none will be close enough. Fishing is one way to gather protein when the SHTF. However, if you want to be successful, you’ll want to avoid these five mistakes at all costs. These will leave you and your family feeling hungry and discouraged.
Big Problem #1: Overdoing it on the bait
Adding too much bait to your hook causes two problems.
Number one, you may be intimidating the fish you’re trying to catch. When you’re fishing, so you don’t starve, you’ll take anything you can get, right? By stacking whole fish carcasses onto the hook, you’re scaring the fish away because they feel threatened by whatever it is they see floating towards them. Sure, some of the large fish you’re unlikely to find might go after it, but those catches are rarer.
When you’re fishing to survive, you want to maximize the amount of fish you can catch, even if they’re a bit smaller.
The second problem you create when putting too much bait on is the waste! You waste so much bait that you can save and use another time. When you load up on the bait, you lose some in the water. Also, if you’re fishing with a standard rod and reel, you may get hung up on something and lose everything.
Solution: Use just enough bait to cover the hook and ensure the total length of whatever you’re using doesn’t exceed four or five inches.
Big Problem #2: Not paying attention to the weather
This might be the biggest mistake you’ll make. Those who don’t understand fishing think the weather plays only a minor role in the success rate. In actuality, the weather should guide how and when you fish.
The first thing to consider is barometric pressure. You should get (and learn how to use) a barometer as part of your prep if you plan to fish for protein. It’s generally assumed that fish bite better during periods of low pressure. During times of high pressure, fish feel lethargic. Thus they’re less likely to strike something.
So, what’s an example of a time of low barometric pressure?
A high humidity environment, overcast skies, and an imminent storm is your best environment for fishing. Barometric pressure drops consistently during these times, and fish are feeding before the storm.
You also want to consider temperature. When the weather is extremely warm or extremely cold, the fish are lethargic. If you have a stretch of 90+ degree temperatures, fish will retreat to deeper water, making them hard to get unless you have a boat. During periods of cold weather, fish will move into the shallow water to find warmth.
Solution: Research how to track weather patterns on your homestead or at your bug-out location. Get a barometer, learn how to read it, and educate yourself. You’ll have a much higher success rate if you can maximize your fishing opportunities during the right weather. When the weather isn’t prime for fishing, you can devote that time to different activities.
Big Problem #3: Primitive Fishing when you’re exhausted
While you might not always be able to prevent this, you want to avoid fishing when you’re exhausted because you won’t be alert enough, and you’ll miss opportunities. Especially true for primitive fishing methods such as noodling and spearfishing. These techniques require immense focus and lightning-fast reflexes.
Solution: Consider developing more passive fishing methods such as trapping. Building a fish weir or setting up trotlines is a great way to catch fish without devoting too much time and energy to it. You can still fish in other ways. However, these traps will always be there to provide when you’re too tired or don’t have the time. Fishing when you are wiped out is a waste of time and a big mistake.
Big Problem #4: Using old fishing line and weak knots
Just because we’re talking about primitive fishing methods doesn’t mean you need to fish like cavepeople. We can prepare adequately, so we have the gear we need when the time comes. Don’t sacrifice the integrity of your line by leaving it out in the weather and letting it get frail. You need a sturdy line to reap the rewards and catch something big.
Also, learn how to tie a proper knot. A clinch or Palomar knot will do the trick. Make sure you learn these. Improper knot tying will lead to breakages or the loss of your hook. You can’t afford to lose bait or fish when you’re fishing to survive.
Solution: Learn those knots, store your line correctly, and make sure you’re using the right size line. The size you’ll need will depend on where you’re fishing and what you’re fishing for. Small pond and river anglers shouldn’t need anything much larger than a six-pound test. If you’re fishing in saltwater canals and offshore, you’ll want to size up accordingly.
Speaking of knots, here’s an article from 1stMarineJarhead on how to tie the Gaff Topsail Halyard Bend/Hitch. You can use this not if you need to put up a temporary shelter using a tarp.
Big Problem #5: Not having a primitive fishing strategy
As Preppers, most of you likely have plans for just about everything. You plan your gardens, prep your pantry, and plan ahead for potential disasters. It’s crucial you have a plan for fishing as well. It’s not as simple as throwing some bait in the water and pulling stuff back. If you intend on using fishing as a primary food source, take it seriously. Start practicing now. Put together a strategy for how you’ll fish regularly and what methods you’ll use.
If you don’t want to worry about deeply primitive methods like spearfishing and noodling, you’ll need to compile some gear. A survival fishing kit is a great way to get started. Still, you should also get a short rod and a sturdy reel—stock up on fishing line, hooks, and plenty of soft plastic artificial worms to keep it simple.
Consider passive fishing methods such as trapping. As mentioned above, learn how to build a fishing weir and trotlines; these are great strategies. You can also purchase a large net and rig it up in a nearby river.
If you’re planning to bug out, make sure you’re bugging out according to your strategy. You’ll need a place to fish nearby if you plan on staying there a while.
Solution: Write down a strategy for how you’ll consistently catch fish to provide for yourself and whoever else relies on you. Figure out how much fish you’ll need to survive, what methods you’ll use, and how you’ll store them if you have a surplus. Once you’ve done that, you need to practice these methods as much as possible.
Gather your gear and go fishing!
If you feel like you have one or more of the problems outlined here, be sure to address them as soon as possible. The sooner you fix it, the sooner you can get on track. Fishing is a great way to get consistent protein into your diet but remember that this extra attention to detail will mean the difference between a full and empty belly.
Do you have suggestions you would like to share with other readers? What are your go to primitive fishing methods? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below. And, while you’re there, if you have any favorite ways to prepare your catch of day, share that too!
For Coty, he didn’t love bass fishing at first cast. It took a few (thousand) for him to become obsessed with mastering every possible fishing style, technique, and lure. As a third-generation angler, Coty has a lot of knowledge and experience on the water and he loves sharing what he knows. When he’s not fishing you can likely find him playing soccer with his kids or figuring out how to get them to listen to him.